The Warriors were horrible the first two games of the season.
They dropped their opener to the Clippers, 141-122, and trailed by as many as 42 in a 28-point loss to the Thunder.
After the loss in Oklahoma City, ESPN's Stephen. A Smith had a lot to say Monday morning on "First Take."
"Let me be very, very clear -- the Warriors look absolutely positively atrocious. It's an embarrassment ... you're not supposed to be this bad. I'm talking about competitive play, I'm talking about fight, I'm talking about going down swinging.
"They have gotten annihilated and it's a disgraceful performance ... excuse me, your name is the Warriors for crying out loud. It ain't the 'Golden State Punks.' It's the Warriors! Go out there, and be a Warrior!"
After Golden State beat the Pelicans on Monday night, Warriors superstar Steph Curry responded to a reporter's question about critics without mentioning Smith specifically.
"Everybody loves to label you when you're down or when you're losing," Curry said. "That's easy. It's easy to get on TV and say whatever you want. It's easy to just throw darts at a team that's trying to figure it out based on how much success we've had.
"I hope people can start to see through that and understand what we're about as a team and what we're going to build towards. That's basically it. If you want to get on and say whatever you want to say, and fill that 24-hour news cycle, that's cool with us. We're still going to hoop and just play basketball."
Tuesday morning on "First Take," it was Smith's turn to react.
"Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in the history of basketball. Steph Curry is a future Hall of Famer. Steph Curry is a champion and he's one of the best people you will ever meet in your life. Got nothing but love for the brother. But when he sits up there and says it's easy for folks to get at you while you're down -- he has a point, he's not wrong.
"Until you take into consideration folks that spend their hard-earned money to come out and watch you perform and see what we saw the first two games. Let me be very, very clear -- I said that the Warriors in the first two games looked like trash. And I meant every damn word of it. It's a fact.
"I certainly wasn't talking about him because Steph Curry gonna be Steph Curry. I'm talking about effort on the defensive end of the floor. When you look like you didn't come to play with effort to open the NBA season, why would we not call you out?
"As fans, you don't have a right to get on them (the players) all the damn time. But you do have a right to look at them as ballplayers and say, 'Yo, are you gonna play? What the hell you doing?' And the first two games, that's what they provoked. I stand by what I said.
"I respect the hell out of Steph Curry, but I know what I saw about the Golden State Warriors."
Smith's "First Take" host Max Kellerman then weighed in.
"Athletes frequently use what they perceive as criticism to fuel themselves ... they're looking for motivation because they're competing against the other best athletes in the world. And you give them, Stephen A., in this case, low-hanging fruit."
OK. This doesn't happen very often but I agree with all three people involved.
Smith is paid to go on TV and give his opinions. And while his delivery can be exaggerated at times for entertainment's sake, we all can agree that the Warriors didn't give maximum effort the first two games and the defense was non-existent (even Draymond said so).
They were missing Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein and have a bunch of new and young players. But the optics were bad and fans have a right to be disappointed -- even if they understand the early-season growing pains.
Kellerman's point about manufacturing motivation is spot on, and anybody who has played competitive sports is nodding in agreement.
Over the years, Steph and Draymond repeatedly have acknowledged they hear the outside noise -- which isn't going away just because the Warriors are no longer title favorites.
The "bulletin board material" will keep coming and perhaps Golden State needs it now more than ever.
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